To my mind, many of today’s sporting events appear over-planned, over-organised and often over before they start. Everyone’s competing to the bleep of their fit-bit, to their coach’s advice in their ear, to their nutritional plan of the last six months or to the rigged scam of the betting syndicate in the east. So, when something out of the ordinary happens, I must confess, I rather delight in it.
Last week just such a gaffe happened in the Venice marathon. With less than ten miles to go, the usual Kenyan & Ethiopian suspects were jockeying for position at the pointy-end when the frontrunner misjudged a turn and took everyone off-piste down a cycle path. When they eventually found themselves faced with traffic to one side and a canal to the other they realised their mistake, doubled-back and hot-footed it to re-join the race.
In the meantime, a complete unknown, Eyob Gebrehiwet, seized his opportunity and managed to hold-off the quickly catching group of elite runners to take his first ever win in a very credible 2.12.16. Admittedly, the marathon should be primarily a test of endurance not orientation but as it was Eyob’s second only marathon race it makes it all the more remarkable and, with an Italian winning the race for the first time in 22 years, all the more worthy of celebration.